Singleness, Scripture teaches, is "good" (I Cor. 7:1). First, singleness is "good" as a good institution of God. We rightly speak of marriage as a creation ordinance (Gen. 2:24) but singleness too was instituted at creation for there was a (short) time when Adam was single. To state the obvious, all are born single and so everybody, including married people, were once single. The singleness which God wills for all His people (for a time) is "good." Second, not every Christian is obligated to marry. It is "better to marry than to burn" in lust (I Cor. 7:9) but some are given the "gift" of continence and others the "gift" of marriage (7). Third, the goodness of single life is evinced in that not only are angels single but so were the apostle Paul (8) and even Christ Himself. All unmarried persons are to glorify God in their single state. Fourth, all will be single in heaven. Earthly marriage is temporary (29, 31). In the new heavens and the new earth, there will only be one marriage, that of Christ and His church for ever. Fifth, single people avoid the cares of marriage (26, 28, 32). Sixth, single Christians ordinarily have a greater freedom to serve the Lord (32-35). In short, singleness is good as a divine "gift" (7), blessing (40) and calling (17) which is preferable to marriage in certain circumstances (40)—though marriage is preferable in other circumstances (9).
All this has important implications for married people in their attitude towards single Christians. Unmarried (or widowed) believers are not lesser Christians or second class citizens in the kingdom of heaven. The older unmarried sister is not just some old maid. She is part of the body of Christ; a necessary part of His body. Similarly, the single man must not automatically be thought of as odd or strange. No one ought to offend one of Christ’s little ones (Matt. 18:6).
The single Christian must believe on the basis of the Word of God that his single state is "good." God has good purposes for the single believer, for "all things [including singleness] work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). Moreover, it is in the way of believing the goodness of single life that the single Christian experiences the goodness of single life. One may object, What is good about cooking alone and eating alone and washing up alone? However, singleness can be and is good even when it brings its own trials and struggles. Singleness can be and is good even though you (lawfully) desire and seek to be married and have children. For the Bible declares singleness to be "good" and we must believe this and not murmur about God’s providence towards us. Thus the single Christian must avoid self pity and desperation and learn to be content in whatever state God puts him or her—a difficult calling for all of us in all our circumstances (Phil. 4:11).
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 1
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851